If you live in certain colder parts of the United States, it may be painful to start thinking about anything related to warmth and sunshine, but many families begin their summer camp search months before school is out. It’s important to begin marketing your summer camp programs as soon as possible —doing so before the end of February is ideal.

Get the Local Temperature

What’s the demand for summer camps in your local area? How far are parents willing to drive for affordable, quality summer camp programs? One way to get this critical data is to join local Facebook groups for parents. You can search posts using keywords like “summer camps” or “summer camp recommendations” and find out valuable information about what local parents are looking for, when they are looking for it, and what may attract them to one program over another.

Safety and Affordability is Key

One thing you’ll notice over and over again is the scarcity of affordable summer camp programs that offer before-and-after care. Coupled with the sheer number of summer camps run by local clubs, retail stores, and the like, it can be very difficult for families to get a sense of the safety mechanisms in place.

One of the key advantages to school summer camps are the safe facilities and, if you offer it, the access to on-site before-and-after care. Consider the number of parents with children who are too old for traditional daycare but too young to stay home alone, and juxtapose that against the frequency of summer camp hours running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or perhaps 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For a full-time working parent, finding the perfect summer camp with before-and-after care is akin to hunting a unicorn.

Marketing your school is key. Get the word out organically by asking your parent ambassadors to engage in local Facebook groups, and consider paid ads on Facebook and Instagram to further advertise your summer camp programs. Hit on the pain points of local families and you have a winning combination.

Always Be Closing

School-affiliated summer camps or Vacation Bible School programs are valuable opportunities to recruit prospective families into your community. Some schools may have morning coffee at drop-off, giving school faculty or staff a way to engage with and establish personal connections with local parents. Others may use summer camp registration data to begin targeted marketing and recruitment efforts to those families or other families in their area. Don’t forget to have Open House/School Tour opportunities during the summer camp program, and offer to meet one-on-one with families to discuss admissions or financial aid concerns as they arise.

Capture Registrations Easily

FACTS Payment Forms is a streamlined way for you to easily process summer camp registrations and permission forms without a heavy system implementation. If you’re already a FACTS Tuition Management user, you’ll see the summer camp payments process through FACTS as part of your regular remittance. Additionally, you can use Payment Forms to offer products like camp-branded t-shirts, water bottles, or other swag.

The first day of summer camp may be months away, but researching and marketing to families early on will help ensure that your camp stands out.